Law Times

October 2, 2017

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OCA clarifies Insurance Act amendments BY ALEX ROBINSON Law Times T he Ontario Court of Ap- peal has clarified that 2015 amendments to the Insurance Act could ap- ply to actions that were brought forward before changes came into force. In complimenting decisions of two cases heard together on appeal — El-Khodr v. Lackie and Cobb v. Long Estate — the court found that a new prejudgment interest rate applied to actions brought over motor vehicle accidents that predated the legislation. In 2015, amendments to the Insurance Act came into effect, which reduced the default rate of prejudgment interest for non- pecuniary losses for bodily injury or death from five per cent to the bank rate at the time the proceed- ing is started. There, however, has been much debate as to whether this had retrospective effect or only applied to new actions. Lawyers say the Court of Ap- peal's decision could settle this argument and bring greater cer- tainty to the issue. Barry Percival, one of the law- yers who represented the defen- dants in El-Khodr, says the deci- sion is quite impactful as the lower prejudgment interest rate eradi- cates an incentive for plaintiffs to delay proceedings. "In my view, this decision will now discourage plaintiffs counsel from delaying the commencement of actions and will accelerate the litigation process, all to the benefit of the injured plaintiff," he says. Plaintiffs lawyers, however, say the decision is troubling as it makes it more difficult for injured plaintiffs to settle their accident benefits before the tort case gets resolved. Kris Bonn, one of the lawyers representing the plaintiff in Cobb, says the decision shows the courts are interpreting the legislation in favour of insurance companies. "So I think it really is making FAMILY LAW FIXES Broken system needs an overhaul P7 FOCUS ON Litigation P8 PM #40762529 $5.00 • Vol. 28, No. 31 October 2, 2017 L AW TIMES C O V E R I N G O N T A R I O ' S L E G A L S C E N E • W W W . L A W T I M E S N E W S . C O M BLACK MARKET POT Look at involving former illicit producers P5 BY ALEX ROBINSON Law Times S ome personal injury law- yers are concerned that new Alternative Business Structure initiatives ap- proved by the Law Society of Up- per Canada are the beginning of a slippery slope toward non-lawyer ownership of law firms. LSUC benchers approved a mo- tion at their September meeting to allow non-profits and charities to provide legal services through practitioners. The changes will allow non-profits and charities to em- ploy lawyers to provide legal ser- vices directly to clients rather than referring them out. Some lawyers, however, see the proposal as a politically astute move to bring ABS to Ontario. "It's just simply the first step and, two years down the road, we're go- ing to have full non-lawyer owner- ship of law firms. That's where this is headed," says Brian Cameron, a partner with Oatley Vigmond Per- sonal Injury Lawyers LLP in Barrie, Ont. The law society's Alternative Business Structures Working Group has been looking at the issue since 2012. The group shelved a proposal to allow non-lawyer majority ownership of law firms in 2015, but some lawyers are still weary of introducing any form of ABS. "I'm not a fan of the ABS model at all. I really think it's a slippery slope," says Renée Vinett, a partner with Howie Sacks & Henry. "It just raises alarm bells." Bencher Malcolm Mercer, who is chairman of the working group, has said these changes will allow non-profits and charities, such as women's shelters, to connect people to the services they need rather than requiring them to seek out lawyers, he says. "What I would say to those who take the position that one shouldn't do a good thing because it might lead to a bad thing is that they should analyze each proposal on its own merits," he says. "It would be a shame if the pro- fession, if it was concerned about non-lawyer ownership, would not permit charities and not-for-prof- its to serve needs that we all know exist." The working group had origin- ally planned to submit proposals to See Lawyers, page 2 Brian Cameron says introducing ABS initiatives is 'the first step' in a slippery slope to allowing non-lawyer ownership of law firms. Photo: Robin Kuniski Some Alternative Business Structures approved Barry Percival says a recent Ontario Court of Appeal decision will discourage plaintiffs' counsel from delaying the commencement of actions. See Act, page 2 Follow Contact Nicole Breakey 1-888-781-9083 ext. 117 E-mail: SCAN | CODE | LOAD ocudavit-EARLUG_LT_Apr24_17.indd 1 2017-04-20 7:54 AM 9 th Annual Aboriginal Law JOIN OUR FULLY ACCREDITED PROGRAM | EXPAND YOUR NETWORK AND OBTAIN CPD HOURS Register online: • 416-609-5868 | 1-877-298-5868 *Discount applies to in-class only USE PROMO CODE EARLYBIRD2017 & SAVE $300* EARLY BIRD ENDS OCT.25 Untitled-8 1 2017-09-27 4:45 PM

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